TS Eliot Prize

Congratulations are due today to self-confessed Harry’s Place comments box lurker George Szirtes who has won the coveted TS Eliot Prize for poetry.

“The prize, once described by Andrew Motion, the present Poet Laureate, as the one “most poets want to win”, is awarded by the Poetry Book Society.”

Watch what you say down there in future or you might end up as a character in one of his poems…

Here’s something from what is now officially the best collection of poetry published in Britain and Ireland in the year 2003.


There are places to get drunk in. The wedding night
at the hotel. The presidential villa with its terrace overlooking the water. The bedroom with its freight
of sharp mosquitos. In the company of Cerberus,
the dog in the driveway, and his friends. We are alight
with dowsed bulbs and the television flickering
in the corner. It is inexpressibly sweet a
ll this, among the lost fireflies of a state
in its dotage or birth pangs, whichever it is,
waiting for hands or lips or languages to meet
in the lottery of improbabilities.
The sea is murmuring under its black wing.
The frogs by the lake hesitate, then fly
away, dropping like light rain from a clear sky.

from Reel by George Szirtes (Bloodaxe, 2004)

And here’s what he said about the comments box here:

I spent some time reading political blogs, mostly Harry’s Place, which is like a brawl in the corner of an intellectual beer cellar. The amount of time people spend contending with each other there, quoting articles, referring to other sources. You would think it was vanity (you would think so, you probably do think so, if you are female), a kind of bloky competition for top dog, but I am inclined to view it differently.

I suggest that men contend on such matters because they actually want to test ideas. The competition involved in testing sharpens such ideas, however like bragadoccio it might seem or actually be, it is what has made the male of the species inventive, restless, enquiring. You get the good effects as well as the bad ones. But hence air travel, hence vacuum cleaners, hence mousetraps, hence the Pazzi Chapel etc etc. You just have to put up with a bit of shouting and the occasional fisticuffs